‘Ballers’ in off season

LeBron James too busy for Universal pic

With all eyes focused on superstar free agent LeBron James’ next move, one thing appears certain: The basketball phenom won’t land on a movie set anytime soon.

Universal Pictures and Imagine Entertainment had hoped to get their James vehicle “Ballers” off the ground next month but have quietly put it on hold until next summer.

The Brian Grazer-produced pic was being groomed for an August shoot in Miami with Malcolm Lee (“Soul Men”) at the helm, but the project was shelved due to a number of hiccups. The screenplay, penned by Babaloo Mandel and Lowell Ganz with a rewrite by Peter Steinfeld, needed work and couldn’t hit the small window in James’ busy schedule, according to several sources close to the project. That gave the filmmakers no opportunity to take the script out to actors.

Furthermore, after James’ Cleveland Cavaliers came up short once again in the NBA playoffs — losing in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals to the Boston Celtics — basketball’s most sought-after player wanted to concentrate on his hoops future. As of 12:01 a.m. Thursday, James became a free agent, kicking off a media frenzy. At least six teams are courting the CAA-repped forward, including the New York Knicks, the Los Angeles Clippers and the Chicago Bulls, with everyone from Jay-Z to the cast of the Broadway hit “Promises, Promises” making a plea to the Ohio native. Madison Avenue is salivating over the possibility of James landing in one of the three biggest media markets.

Regardless of the outcome, U is still high on “Ballers” and will look to cast an A-list comedic cast around the sports icon for a July 2011 shoot.

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